Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I'm avoiding this story like a plague. I think it's because I'm afraid of it. I think it's because I'm afraid there's something in it, there's something to it that I'll somehow destroy.

Michelangelo once said, "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." I've often felt that way about writing. When I get really into it, into the zone, I think of it not in terms of words, sections, sentences, and paragraphs. I talk about the shape being wrong. I talk about the pace being off. I talk about the tone being strange. As if I were carving or dancing or singing, not writing a story.

But it does take shape. And it is like Michelangelo says. The story already exists, you just pick the words out from all the other possibilities that could have gone on that page. You're finding the shape, and - if you do it right - you're setting it free.

But what if you chip away too much, and you gouge off one of the angel's wings? Or what if you mess up the base so it topples over at every slight breeze? What if you don't shave away enough and the angel looks bloated, too pleasantly plump for its own good?

I think I'm afraid because I've heard the story like one hears a song coming from somewhere nearby in the dark. It is beautiful and a little sad and made all the lovelier by its mystery. And I'm afraid if I try to write down the notes, to bring it into a well-lit room and plunk down keys on a piano, that I'll be ruining it, that it will be marred too much by any association with me, that in trying to keep it alive I will have ultimately been the cause of its death.

I thought I heard somebody calling. In the dark I thought I heard somebody call...

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